The Short Ball Problem – Iyer Not Alone

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Short Ball Issue
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Short Ball Issue: Shreyas Iyer’s numbers in domestic cricket are unmatched. His red-ball credentials are one of the best in the business. Before making his Test debut, Iyer averaged more than 50 while striking at 80+. Iyer had a tremendous season in 2015 that saw him performing well in IPL too. It was about time he made his India debut.

Iyer for number four:

He was one of the strong contenders to take up the number four spot in India’s limited-overs side in 2017. India tried a plethora of options at number four. Iyer presented a decent account of himself in the opportunities given to him. But he couldn’t seal the spot for the 2019 World Cup.

India went back to Iyer post the World Cup wherein he did seem a strong contender. He was brilliant against spin and decent against pace. But a bilateral series against Australia in January 2020 opened up a major chink in his armour.

The short ball Issue:

Australian pacers consistently troubled Shreyas Iyer with the short ball. He looked completely out of place playing the short ball. In this digital age, news spread fast. Iyer had a weakness against the short ball. This short ball issue has repeatedly gotten him in trouble. Iyer struggled in Australia, England, and wherever bowlers bounced him out. 

He is not the only Indian batsman:

In the series against New Zealand, Iyer got out to short balls in both games of the first ball he faced from seamers. It doesn’t look good for Iyer at the moment. But Shreyas Iyer is not the only Indian batsman for whom short ball has been a problem. There have been other popular batsmen too who have perennially struggled against the short ball.

We look at popular Indian batters who struggled to face the short ball:

#1 Suresh Raina

It was primarily his weakness against the short ball that cut short his international career. Suresh Raina was a major force in at least white-ball cricket up until the 2015 ODI World Cup. But his career abruptly came to a halt as teams constantly targeted him with short balls. Raina, unfortunately, couldn’t find answers to this problem ever.

#2 Sourav Ganguly

Teams in the early 2000s used to soften up Sourav Ganguly with short balls. Sourav Ganguly who had a strong off-side game had trouble facing the hard length. The former Indian captain to his credit overcame the challenge at times with his century in Gabba being a standout example. But he couldn’t completely ace facing the sweet chin music as bowlers often always got him out with a short ball.

#3 Yuvraj Singh

The list strangely contains all elegant left-handers who looked all at sea while facing the short ball. Yuvraj Singh who had the best bat swing in the game sadly never had a clue about facing the short ball. It was for this reason that despite being one of the best in white-ball cricket, Yuvraj’s Test career never ever got going. 

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